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Inconsistent, Confusing Food Labeling System Leads To Billions Of Dollars Of Waste

September 18, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
Individuals and businesses in the U.S. are needlessly throwing away billions of pounds of food annually because of confusing food expiration labeling practices, a new report says. Expiration dates on food products – phrases like “sell by”, “use by”, and “best before” -- are badly regulated, misinterpreted and “leading to a false confidence in food safety”, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council and Harvard Law School. More than 90 percent of Americans prematurely throw out food – as much as 40 percent of the food supply, or about $40 billion worth. The authors recommend creating a standardized, common sense date labeling system that provides useful information to consumers, “rather than the unreliable, inconsistent and piecemeal system we have today”.
"The Dating Game: How Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America", Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Natural Resources Defense Council, September 18, 2013, © Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Natural Resources Defense Council
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